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I Was Enjoying DARK MATTER ‘Til They ****ing Killed My Favorite Character

23 Feb

by Madeline Iva

***Yeah, this post is chock full of spoilers.  You’ve been warned.*** Dark Matter is a successful comic book made into a Canadian television show that you can binge watch on Netflix–which is what I did.  The gloomy ship, the tough characters and the cloudy mystery about their identity sucked me right in until I was devouring episodes left and right.

One. He's the good guy on a ship of tough criminals. So how did he wind up with them?

One. He’s the good guy on a ship of tough criminals. So how did he wind up with them?

WHY I LOOOOOOOOVED DARK MATTER SO MUCH:

The premise is pretty brilliant.  Six people wake up in sleep pods on a dark ship in space.  Their memories have been wiped.  In addition to that, the android that sort of runs the ship wakes up and starts attacking them, so they knock her out and end up injuring her.  To get her back up requires a memory wipe, so she too doesn’t know what happened to them all.  It’s science-fiction, but it’s also mystery.  Who are they? Who did this to them? Why? 

darkmattertwo

Two. She’s hot.

They give themselves numbers and I knew that they’d eventually run into their pasts and get names, but it made me extraordinarily satisfied that they call each other by numbers.  It becomes an alternative identity.  Later on Three learns his name is Marcus–but if the others still call him Three, it’s like they’re disavowing his messed up Marcus past and saying that he can go back to being their three–i.e. annoying, but not a completely heartless dick.

I like One best.  He is a good looking guy–but I mean, they’re all good looking, so really, it isn’t only that. However, in a ship full of tough people, he’s the good guy.  Which is a little scary, because the rest (Five excepted) so obviously are not. I usually don’t like the super good guys.  I like the maybe-villains.  But One is played by a very talented actor, who via subtle expressions and delivery squeezes a three-dimensional performance out of a two dimensional character.

Three is all walking id, questioning every decision that isn’t based on pure selfishness–so of course, he is fun to watch and a bit of a wild card. Later on, we see Three has a real soft spot for women. At one point we think Two has been executed and Three’s face is really something to see in that moment.  Three, also, is one of the best actors on the show–at certain moments.

THREE

THREE. Also the show’s id character. Also kinda hot. Sometimes. Also a good actor.

Two is the toughest character in the beginning.  Played by an asian female with some extraordinary thighs, she takes command of the ship with her bad-ass attitude.  One is quickly drawn to her, but when she wants to scratch her bootie itch and have a little meaningless sex, it’s Three she calls upon, not One. Which makes One smart.  So there are tensions between One and Two because: love triangle!  Not to mention that One and Three are diametrically opposed in terms of morality.

Yet pretty soon, it turns out that One discovers he’s got a BIG secret to keep and Three is right there when this secret is revealed to One.  So the two are connected in that way for a while and it’s massively uncomfortable for One. Which is great! (Although I hope you can follow what I’m saying, because it’s starting to sound like weird SFF algebra.)

Probably the most handsome guy on the show. But....meh.

Four is probably the most handsome guy on the show. But….meh. He adds the most in ensemble moments.

The show delivers Big Secrets every so often and they are mostly yummy.  The show is at it’s best when it returns to its gloomy mystery origins: you just don’t know who you can trust.  Goodie!

It’s often young Five who circles us around to these gripping plot reversals. I think I liked her at first simply because I associated her with these moments. But I also delight in Five being a Young Adult character–a main character and a girl–in a sci-fi television show.  I’m trying to think of another major adult SFF show where that’s the case, and I can’t.

Five aka "The Kid."

Five aka “The Kid.”

I enjoyed watching the Android–though you and I know her as Lauren  from LOST GIRL.  She gets dinged up from the git go and starts to go “off program”. For instance, she starts seeking approval from the humans.  The “right” thing to do would be to wipe her system and reboot–a kind of android seppuku. At one point there’s the potential to “upgrade her system” to make her feel and seem more like a human and a ‘rouge android’ element is introduced.  The program upgrade makes the Android seem like a whole other character.  The actress performs this well, but…ugh! (more later below).

So there was something here for everyone–I thought a lot of the ideas in the show were fabulous.

WHAT WENT WRONG…

I’m not saying this show was perfect.  One problem I had with five is that she’s so obviously an older actress playing a younger character.  She and Two are equally short, and she has far larger breasts, so buying that she was a teen was a challenge (She’s was twenty-two when they filmed).  I had to keep squinting to suspend disbelief about her.  I mean, it’s not just that they all decide she’s a young teen when she looks anywhere from sixteen to twenty-three, it’s that they keep saying things like: “She’s just a KID!” like she’s only twelve or something…But that’s not saying anything against the actress, who is quite good. Another thing is that she keeps having new clothes to wear when a) she was a stowaway, presumably on the ship without luggage, and b) everyone else on the show seems to be in the same-o, same-old clothes.

Android fail. Every few episodes she's getting zapped and it's lights out.

Android fail. Every few episodes she’s getting zapped and it’s lights out.

I had problems with the android ‘upgrade program’, although it was more like an epiphany. The plot of this particular episode struck my robot-romance fixated nerve.  It made me realize that the ‘upgrade’ shortcut would never work for a successful robot/human romance.  What do we love about idea of a cyborg/AI/robot/android romance if it’s not that the android represents the most difficult challenge of all? Huge boundaries (impossible boundaries some would say) exist in terms of getting a cold and emotionless being to develop attraction, love, and passion. That’s a HUGE obstacle. A quick upgrade to the system???? That’s just cheating. )

I delighted in watching Six waiting in a doctor’s office for a very long time where they continuously ran ads about adventuring off world via clone proxies.  Your body and mind are scanned in a pod, and your look-a-like clone wakes up on some other world.  Your clone enjoys your vacay and then all the memories from your clone are downloaded back into your memory while you’re in the pod.  You wake up and come out of the scanner remembering the events and sensations of your vacation.  Meanwhile, the cyborg that looks like you and is walking around as you, is taken somewhere, has a memory wipe and is put into a vat for recycling…

Six

Six. Nobody trusts nobody–not even the android.

I thought the show was creating an ironic situation in which Six was ignoring a bit of information crucial (and funny) in terms of unravelling the core mystery.   My hope was that someone had wanted a bad guy dream team to go do bad deeds across the universe.  So they made clones of the original criminals and when those deeds were done, wiped the clone memories–but for some reason the clones weren’t put in the vat.  Instead they ended up in the sleep pods on the ship — To me this TOTALLY explained the mystery of how they wound up on the ship together and why they had no memories…

Six wakes up as a clone from the pod...

Six wakes up as a clone from the pod…

Alas, that was not the actual solution to the mystery.  This was the writer in me, weaving together my own plot soup based on ingredients provided by the show.

My sweetie hated the clone device.  He hated it because real clones (one day) are/will be real people. This show perpetuates the idea of clones as objects to purchase and discard.  The clone thing is used as a plot device later on in other ways, but the clones when badly hurt tend to simply disintegrate a la Buffy stabbing the vampires and making them go poof. Why would a clone do that, he asked? It’s stupid. A clone–because it’s an actual human body–would go splat, not poof. It would not disintegrate into a cloud of clumpy dust.

Yeah, so that was kind of a regrettable choice.  Meanwhile, I loved my idea of the crew being memory-wiped clones.  The show has them on the ship starting from square one in a state of distrust, but circumstances make them pull together.  We know they were probably very bad in their former lives, but rallied by the influence of Five, aka ‘The Kid’, they have a chance to become new, better people. (Insert here your own philosophical discussion with a friend over the role of memory in personhood and if one can change merely by starting over. This is the good kind of sci-fi.)  As they slowly pull together to become a unit they build loyalty to each other and we know that many of the forms their enemy will take are elements of their past coming to haunt them. Everyone knows karma is a bitch–but it’s very enjoyable to watch.

One finds out that there is indeed a very bad guy out there with One’s face. (See! One is a clone!) Unfortunately, however, for my pet theory, the bad guy Derek Moss says something like “I’d think you were a clone, but someone would have had to scan my body to do that, and no one did.”

Booooooooo!

dark-matter-season-2-coverHowever, I was still delighted that One had this evil Doppleganger out in the world that could cause him no end of trouble.

But here’s the big problem.  They f**king killed One.  Whyyyyyyy? It seemed gratuitous and unnecessary given that they never really followed the conspiracy plot path the killing seemed based upon.  You eventually find out where the crew’s memories are stored and I knew that Evil One aka Derek Moss was still out there.  So my FTL plotting muscles realized ‘the gang’ was going to kidnap Evil Derek and stick One’s memories into him.  But that didn’t happen either. 😦

But! When Derek reappeared, I was like: Yay! Evil Derek is better than no One at all.  Alas, in that very episode the show killed off Evil Derek.

Oh people.  I was so disgruntled.  One was the glue that kept my interest in the show at super-high levels. Yeah, I liked all these ideas about the others and sometimes their interactions were okaaaaaay, but for me, One was the secret sauce.  Yes, the whole prison break thing was good. Yes, finding out Two’s backstory was pretty cool.

Frankly, since One/Derek’s death, I’ve only made it through about four more episodes while mostly folding laundry and checking email.  I just don’t care anymore–Maybe other audience members, more familiar with the comic books than I am, are looking forward to what’s around the corner.  Maybe they know stuff that I don’t.  Apparently DARK MATTER  has a very loyal following.  But I, good people, am done.

If you know the Dark Matter comics, tell me — is there reason to hope? Should I give the show another chance?

Have you ever suffered torment from the character you were rooting for being killed off? (I’m looking at you SLEEPY HOLLOW fans.) Did you slog onward or just give up?  I’ve resorted to writing DARK MATTER fan fic as a way of detoxing.  Sigh.  It’s premised on my rogue clone idea…Maybe it’ll become its own thing one day.

Follow us at Lady Smut where we make the darkness matter.  And subscribe to our newsletter if you want fabulous free reads. ; >

Meanwhile, here’s something to pluck up your spirits — we ran a giveaway from Lux Aromatica last week, and to say thank you to our readers Lux made a coupon just for you.  2017-02-ladysmut-flash-sale

Madeline Iva writes fantasy and paranormal romance.  Her fantasy romance, WICKED APPRENTICE, featuring a magic geek heroine, is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and through iTunes.  Sign up for Madeline Iva news & give aways.wickedapprenticefinal-fjm_low_res_500x750

One Hot Zombie Husband, Please!–And Other Lustful Zombie Stuff

2 Feb
santaclaritadiet

Let that repressed manic side out, Timothy Olyphant.

by Madeline Iva

On Friday night I’m watching a new show called THE SANTA CLARITA DIET on Netflix. Why? Two words: Timothy Olyphant. The guy has a kind of restrained mayhem vibe that makes women purr. He’s good when he’s a bad boy, and I like it when he does the humor thing, but really underplays it. Let’s hope he gets to do both in this new TV show.

What’s unusual is for Olyphant to be part of a duo, for he often plays the lone wolf.  Yet he’s a supportive husband (awwww) as his wife’s body goes undead and her twisted feral id coming to life. (Peeps, this could be my own marriage we’re talking about—esp. when I’m on deadline.)

As for the rest of the show–we shall see.  I lurv Drew Barrymore and early reviews say the supporting cast is excellent.  The creator is Victor Fresco who did the short lived but great (!) show BETTER OFF TED, which walked the line of absurdism and also had a supportive, understanding, and munch-a-licious lead.

But hey, let me be your zombie pimp and recommend some other zombie joy you may have overlooked. My preference is for zombie comedy/satire. Take R in WARM BODIES.  So cute and so protective in his own teenage, shuffling, groan-y way.

Click to buy the DVD

Click to buy the DVD

 

There’s also a wonderful funny little book call BREATHERS.  Subversive and with a sexy element that I quite enjoyed.

Click to buy.

Click to buy.

Have you seen the movie SEAN OF THE DEAD? It’s a bit like The Office meets zombies. Quite surprisingly daffy and satiric all the way through.

Imagine The Office as a zombie flick. Click to buy the DVD...

Imagine The Office as a zombie flick. Click to buy the DVD…

Meanwhile, let us not forget some serious Zombie smut, like what you’ll find with our own Isabelle Drake’s SERVANT OF THE UNDEAD along with Daisy Harris’ mix of not-quite-human stuff.  I lurved Hariss’ “Steins” and sex bots.  In BUILT FOR IT Harris discovered M/M erotic romance and never looked back. (Can you even get these books anymore Daisy?)

 

557e4e368babb5e201b7f2d2b531d8cbOnce upon a time, Lexi waxed philosophical on the ethics of sex with an undead body. I, dear readers, completely understand.  Who really wants to kiss decaying flesh?  On the other hand, a zombie is nothing if not a metaphor.  Give me your metaphors–satiric, comedic or full of pathos and killed by societal excess and ennui.  Sometimes we all seem a little rotten to the core.  Zombies get to wear their decay on the outside where it’s all embarrassing and visible.  Ultimately, they’re monsters and I dearly love a monster-hero, even if his heart is dead and cold.

That’s not to say that one can’t enjoy zombie horror.  Lexi has traced the path of an end-of-the-world romance on the Walking Dead that I’ve followed probably with more enjoyment that I took in watching the actual show.  Check out her posts:

LIFE AMONG THE DEAD: IS MICHONNE READY TO LOVE AGAIN?

THE DEAD DELIVER: IS THIS THE SEASON FOR RICHONNE? 

DEAD ON! REJOICING FOR RICHONNE

If you do like your zombies with a lot of blood splatter, there’s a movie coming out called THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS.

You'll slurp it up if you like post-apocalyptic action/adventure. Click to buy.

You’ll slurp it up if you like post-apocalyptic action/adventure. Click to buy.

The book was gripping–I stayed up all night reading it.  I’m sure the movie will be excellent too, but check out the book first. It’s post apocalyptic, British, and I liked how the balance of characters in the book were female.  They seemed to have deliberately switched around the race of the characters in the movie.  Hmmmmmm.

There’s also World War Z — not your typical zombie genre book.  It’s totally different and only about a thousand times better than the movie. (Sorry Brad Pitt.)

Another book I've read in one sitting. Click to buy.

Another book I’ve read in one sitting. Click to buy.

Well, time for me to do some groaning and shuffling myself as I sign off to go jog, shower, and write. Follow us at Lady Smut.  We give you reasons to live.

wickedapprenticefinal-fjm_high_res_1800x2700Madeline Iva writes fantasy and paranormal romance.  Her fantasy romance, WICKED APPRENTICE, featuring a magic geek heroine, is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and through iTunes.  Sign up for Madeline Iva news & give aways.

 

I’VE SEEN STRANGER THINGS THAN BAD MOMS WEARING CROWNS

1 Dec

 

by Madeline Iva

How was your Thanksgiving? Mine was inspired. As promised, I binge-watched a ton of TV and movies letting my brain waves rest for a few days. And yes, I’ll be talking about foreskin before I’m through with this post. But let’s talk about STRANGER THINGS***–before we get to the turtleneck.

STRANGER THINGS takes place in the 80’s and yet I noted how it was different from the actual movies of the 80’s:

1) Weirdness wins!

2) Unlike any proper 80’s horror movie, the popular ‘slut’ doesn’t get slaughtered in the first act. Instead her stodgy ‘good girl’ friend is the one who ends up bloody and eventually missing. Huzzah!

Anorexic girl with a P.E. folder--so 80's it hurts!

Anorexic girl with a P.E. folder–so 80’s it hurts!

3) The weirdest of the weird in this show is a girl named Eleven–AND I LOVED HER CHARACTER SO HARD. She’s beautifully androgynous, as well as full of raging destructive and weird powers.

Note to self: Why am I not writing characters like this?

Warning: you're about to get a skewed sense of this TV series, as scene through the distorted lens of my obsession with Eleven.

Warning: the skewed sense you’re getting of this TV series is because it’s through the distorted lens of my obsession with Eleven.

4) The single mom Winona Ryder (who’s a mess) doesn’t need a man in the end.  I walk around with romance colored spectacles all the time, so I’ll admit I kept a keen eye on Winona, wondering if she and the gruff, hulking chief would connect as they started working together to find her missing son. Nope. By the end of the season she’s still a single, shambolic mom–and perfectly content to stay that way. For her it’s a happy ending (but not for everyone else—bwa-ha-ha!)

STRANGER THINGS explores how parents had to communicate with their children before cell phones existed.

STRANGER THINGS explores how parents had to communicate with their children before cell phones existed.

Ultimately, this show was mega-inspiring. Totally rad. Hella bitchin cool. To the max.

Speaking of BAD MOMS–No—I can’t go there yet.

Let’s talk about the Bad Mom with a Crown first.

THE CROWN — It’s like Mad Men for women. Elizabeth is not well educated, or at all prepared to be queen. She was only in her twenties when her father surprised everyone by dying and leaving her to inherit the crown. Her work in the first season is to repair her own deficiencies in the very best British way—by honestly admitting them and tackling them head on.

THE CROWN--in which power carries a handbag and waves funny.

THE CROWN–in which power carries a handbag and waves funny.

I like this show. Yes it’s British propaganda and yes, the attitudes of the people are excruciatingly conservative. But upholding traditions four hundred years old necessitates a bit of a conservatism, doesn’t it?

What I enjoy is that Elizabeth is not the kind of person who glitters, charms, or has brilliant moments of insight. She’s not the princess in a fairy tale who sweeps through the grand palace. She is excruciatingly ordinary.  She sighs over the necessity of living in a giant, ugly, palace and she dresses up with the same stoic attitude I have while doing stomach crunches at the gym. She’s also not really a mummy. Charles and Anne have their nurse, and that should be sufficient. Elizabeth seems at her most content as a mother watching from a distance while her handsome husband plays with the children out in the yard. The show portrays her without a maternal bone in her body. (Why is this so exciting to me?)

Huzzah to Clair Foy, meanwhile.  She’s the actress playing Elizabeth AND also Anne Boleyn in WOLF HALL.  Nice work if you can get it.

While I’m not saying Elizabeth’s not smart, at the same time she clearly wasn’t precocious or intellectually curious as a child. Punctilious in her duties, she’s a bit of a worker drone all in all. She loves horses, her husband, and her sister–perhaps in that order.  But in the beginning she makes mistakes in these most important relationships, promising her husband and sister things that she can’t deliver because she didn’t at first understand the forces who control and apply pressure to someone in her position.

At the same time she must face up to people seeing her exactly as she is–warts and all. I admire this and I cringe.  She doesn’t hide or lie about who she is–ever. I, meanwhile, constantly vacillate between anxiously wanting to please people only to swing right around in the other direction where I’m being so intensely, brutally myself that I alienate them. Gah!

In her role as queen, Elizabeth is not nurturing, motherly, or accommodating to others in ways we tend to expect of women; she’s simply in charge. She does her job with exactitude and diligence. Elizabeth learns the very difficult task of figuring out what this other persona is that she’s expected to inhabit–being The Crown. We see her negotiate being that persona out in the world and at home, and perhaps it’s because she has such a firm grip on herself in terms of who she is and who she isn’t that she gets through smoothly most of the time.

When people (i.e. politicians) attempt to walk all over her, she reminds them—in the very best British way–that she is the queen, and a woman of character, and in her own stead-fast way, a force to be reckoned with.

SPEAKING OF BAD MOMS – No. I still can’t.

SPEAKING OF THE 80’s: If you’re looking for a light comedy—check out WORKING GIRL on Netflix. I’d seen it when I was very young and really loved it. Seeing it again, I realized it is a transgressive fairy tale for the 80’s.  (I assume it was made in the 80’s.  The hair is REALLY big, and shoulder pads are everywhere.) It’s a million times better than Pretty Women, IMHO.

Transgressive 80's Cinderella story.

Transgressive 80’s Cinderella story.

Despite what the title suggests, Melanie Griffith is a lowly Staten Island secretary who wants to leave her life as a wage slave and become an executive. (Become an executive–snort–such an 80’s theme!) Her new female boss, Katherine (played SO WELL by Signorney Weaver) points out that

  • you have to finesse the scum bags—Hey, hasn’t Megyn Kelly has been telling us the same thing lately? Nuts to that, a lot of feminists say.
  • you have to make your own opportunities.

Yes! I hadn’t realized how much this movie influenced me.  When I saw it the first time I was a lowly minimum wage worker.  I then managed to become a creative writing instructor through creating opportunities for myself—and not always asking for permission before doing so, mind you.

Although the female boss Katherine turns out to be the villain of the movie, Melanie Griffith takes her advice. She makes her own opportunities. She doesn’t ask for permission. No guts, no glory. And with a lot of support from Harrison Ford, she succeeds.

OKAY – so now let’s all embrace foreskins and talk about BAD MOMS.

The best part of bad moms--the part that made me cry, was where the actresses were hanging out with their own real moms during the credits...

The best part of bad moms–the part that made me cry, was where the actresses were hanging out with their own real moms during the credits…

I watched it at my sweetie’s insistence.  Poor guy, he’s been so sick, he was looking for some light-light-light comedy to watch and because we both really like Kristen Bell, we decided to check it out. But I came to the film with very low expectations having seen Jezebel’s review/snarl/yawn.

Even so, I was mightily underwhelmed. Let us be clear—there was one bad mom in this film.  One. And she was not the lead–she was the rebel side-kick.  But let’s not dwell upon all that was meh about the movie. Let’s dwell instead over the one weird pause in the film where the women stop to have a frank discussion about foreskin.

–Particularly about how to deal with it face to face when knocking boots with a guy.

Let me first confess that the only foreskin I’ve ever seen is on baby boys while changing diapers when I was a nanny. Sweetie says based on what he sees at the gym (not that he’s looking closely or anything) foreskin was once rare for U.S. men his age or older, but now it’s something you’re probably going to encounter as a single woman dating men of the millennial generation.

Just the same I have to wonder–is this really a big deal? Is this a thing? I mean, yes, the evil world of marketing strives to make us cripplingly insecure about our bodies in every possible way. (Vaginoplasty anyone?) Are men being subjected to the same twisted pressures? Are they now expected to feel less-than because of a perfectly natural part of their bodies?

I vaguely recall some TV episode (was it House?) where a teenage kid took a razor to himself because he felt less attractive to girls. Are we really going there?

On one hand, Bad Moms seems to validate this ‘issue’ by showing some anxiety about encountering foreskin.  Yet they also seem intent upon delivering a message of acceptance.

And how could you not love the moment where the rebel Bad Mom side-kick tells Mila Kunis how to manipulate the foreskin during foreplay while using Kristen Bell’s head to demonstrate?

On the other hand, I’m just goggling over the fact that the movie kind of comes to a dead halt to deliver this rather hilarious PSA.

Oh well. Thanksgiving is over. Back to the daily grind for me.

I’m writing my next book about a Wicked Enchantress–who is NOW going to be a beautifully androgynous character full of raging destructive and weird powers. Huzzah!

And if you like weird, powerful, smexy women, then follow us at Lady Smut.

wickedapprenticefinal-fjm_high_res_1800x2700Madeline Iva writes fantasy and paranormal romance.  Her fantasy romance, WICKED APPRENTICE, featuring a magic geek heroine, is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and through iTunes.  Sign up for Madeline Iva news & give aways.

***I must offer up a humble apology to my writer friend S.A. Hunter. She recommended STRANGER THINGS to me back in September before anyone else was talking about it. People, life is too short to sort through all the crap out there. When a good friend makes excellent recommendations, you listen to her. You treasure her. You don’t turn up your nose and shrug off her suggestion as I did. I was wrong to do so, and hang my head in shame. You are the more discerning, better friend, S. A..

 

I’ve Got a Plan & It’s Just Not That Complicated

17 Nov

by Madeline Iva

Sometimes you need to retreat, huddle up, hunker down, and regroup.  For introverts like me, this is actually our natural state of being.  The thing is–you gotta have a plan.

I love the part in BOURNE LEGACY, where Jeremy Renner (yum!) needs some information from Rachel Weisz who is sputtering over her suddenly-everyone-wants-to-kill-me reality.  Jeremy Renner cuts through her confusion and says, “Now I’ve got a plan, and it’s just not that complicated.  What I’m going to do is wait for the next person to come and kill you.  Maybe they can help me.”  Well, I’ve got a plan, Lady Smut readers, and it’s just not that complicated.

  1. There’s a romance plot spinning in my brain.
  2. I’m going to binge write all weekend long and get as much of it out of my head and splatted onto the page as I can.

That’s the good kind of binge, of course.

westworld

I’m going to try HBO NOW to watch Westworld. This is their new streaming subscription. (Like Netflix only all HBO.) First month is free…

Then there are the other kinds of binging.  Hey, let’s face it, I’m a binge-y kind of woman.  If a little is good, a lot is better.  My favorite types of binges: TV, movies, food, and romance novels.  But first, I will be productive.  I will lay down five thousand words a day (eek!)  and only then will I reach out to find other forms of comfort.

TV Series to Binge:

  • Westworld
  • The Crown
  • Luke Cage

    Dr. Who? Who knew Matt Smith could play the perfect consort?

    Dr. Who? Who knew Matt Smith could play the perfect consort?

At the movie theatre:

  • DR. STRANGE
  • ARRIVAL
  • FANTASTIC BEASTS
  • MISS PEREGRINE’S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN

    Hey look--it's Jeremy Renner again!

    Hey look–it’s Jeremy Renner again!

Meanwhile, Thanksgiving is next week.  We’re making two pies: cherry and sour-cream apple pie. Well, it’s vegan sour cream apple pie, but it’s still completely awesome.

Along with the usual suspects: garlic green beans with toasted almonds, mashed potatoes, and homemade stuffing, (though my grandmother always called it ‘dressing’) we’re in the midst of deciding what the main dish will be.  You might think as vegans we’d be terribly limited for options.  Not so, my friends.  Here are the candidates:

  • chickpea crepes with cauliflower & shiitake mushroom filling
  • panko crusted sweet potato cakes with mushroom ragout
  • black bean & acorn squash empanadas
  • pumpkin gnocchi
  • three-sisters savory pie–with corn, beans, and pumpkin
Add yummy mushroom sauce and devour! I have it out for T-day dinners that are only shades of tan. Get some color on that plate, people!

Add yummy mushroom sauce and devour! I have a grudge against T-day feasts that are only shades of tan. Get some color on that plate, people!

Finally, I’ve been reading Patrick Rothfuss’s NAME OF THE WIND, (so good!) but I’m almost done.  There’s a whole world of  fantasy goodness by new authors on my kindle just waiting for me to dive on in and check them out.

I ***LOVE*** this cover!

I ***LOVE*** this cover!

And an advanced copy of Cara McKenna’s BRUTAL GAME is in there as well — Think of it as a kind of sexy, contemporary palate cleanser for all the fantasy.

Click to buy

Click to buy–.99 cents!

So that’s the plan.  This afternoon, I’m piling on the sweaters and slippers over the pj’s and sinking into the primordial stew of my creative subconscious.

When I emerge after the holiday, the anxious stew in my brain will be quiet.  I will be ready to be fed–both literally and metaphorically.  At that point, I think I’ll be fit to rejoin the world again.

See you on the other side.

–Madeline

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Magicians: A Novel That Stabs Itself in the Heart

6 Oct
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Go ahead and click here to buy, but don’t say I didn’t warn ya.

By Madeline Iva

How do you destroy the genre of your own book? Lev Grossman managed this nifty little trick in his breakout novel THE MAGICIANS–a book that SFF people love to hate.  Meanwhile, everyone else is raving about it.  This fantasy book was clearly a huge best seller, but when checking out the reviews I noticed among the glowing accolades, a few ominous warnings: the book was derivative–HIGHLY derivative, and critics questioned the experience of reading the book, saying “What did I ultimately get out of it?” Nothing positive, I’ll tell you that.

By ‘breakout novel’, technically we’re talking about a novel that sells so well it changes an author’s life forever.  Harry Potter is an excellent example of this.  However, if you look at many other breakout novels, you’ll see that they often conform to a similar structure. While they have a genre framework, the story inside that frame is not really genre at all.  Such is the case with THE MAGICIANS.

Often a breakout novel disappoints readers of that genre.  Why? To hear Donald Maas tell it in his book HOW TO WRITE A BREAKOUT NOVEL, many breakout novels don’t fulfill the conventions that die-hard genre readers expect.  Instead the author explores a literary theme, talking about WWII or about the breakdown of entitled-yet-morally-corrupt-youths, or societal reform almost as if it were as important–if not more–than solving the murder.  These books also don’t end with the bad guys punished, order restored and chaos vanquished, or even with happily ever afters–which is why we read genre, isn’t it?

Here are some examples of break out novels: SMILLA’S SENSE OF SNOW, THE SECRET HISTORY, THE DA VINCI CODE, THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO, and LET THE RIGHT ONE IN. These books may start off being mysteries, thrillers, or horror novels, but they have literary themes and are written in a literary style.  The genre shell is merely a spoonful of sugar that makes the literary medicine go down.

Case in point: THE MAGICIANS.  When I started reading it – I loved it! I thought: This is my kinda book. Really well written, I lurv the main character and all the other characters, yes! Quentin is a tall, mopey, unhappy brilliant teen.  I was all over that.  He gets invited to a college where he can learn magic. Fabulous!

And then it’s Harry Potter in college–but with a lot of drinking, drugs, n sex.  In fact it was a LOT like another crazy brilliant break out book that I highly recommend: THE SECRET HISTORY. Really, it’s THE SECRET HISTORY meets Harry Potter.  I said to myself—Okay, I’m seeing the derivative stuff they mentioned, but it’s SO GOOD that I don’t CARE.

Even up to the middle of the book, I was like, Where is this going? Not sure and I. Don’t. Care. At page 274 I said to myself FINALLY!! Now we have a direction once again–Here we go! Wheeeeeee!

And then the author ruined it for me. How? Why? What went wrong?

First I have to ask myself: what do I get out of Fantasy? Why do I like it as a genre? I like it because it’s anti-high school irony.  There is an earnestness to fantasy. Enthusiasm and triumphing over difficulties is at the core of many a fantasy novel.  Also there are deeply held values of the characters often in play.  Even GAME OF THRONES has these aspects–(What is GAME OF THRONES, meanwhile, but a breakout novel about a fantasy world that–aside from a few dragons–explores the bloody brutality of what it took to survive in the middle ages?)

The point is, I savor these fantasy qualities because when I’m operating in the real world I feel out of step. I feel the world is too harsh or complicated, or sophisticated. I am looking to retreat into my sensitive shell, to enjoy something simple, and sincere.

Certainly Harry Potter is sincere. Even Game of Thrones is sincere—as my Sweetie said: the bad guys are sincerely bad. And one token of their sincerity (some of them) is that when they realize they’re being bad, they change. (I’m looking at you Jamie Lannister.) This is what I want out of a fantasy book.

THE MAGICIANS is not such a book. When Quentin realizes he’s being weak–he  keeps on being weak. There is no character change. There is no fundamental growth and development. It’s as if the author believes character growth and change are impossible.  All there is is time. Time for one to grow older and see over the scrim of youth to the backstage area, where nothing is as wondrous and captivating as you hoped it would be.

What a jaded attitude — especially for characters who learn magic, and travel to new fantastical worlds.  To embed a theme of chronic dissatisfaction in the face of such glorious adventure and then turn around and claim, it’s not really adventurous, we don’t know what we’re doing, and it’s all going to shit–it’s disgusting, really.  Yes, disgusting.

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This is the one. Click to buy this book.

Now, Donna Tartt does something similar in her book (which came out long before Grossmans, and I highly recommend it,) but there was a point to it.  We know the students in THE SECRET HISTORY killed their good friend.  We’re told that on page one.  The book explores why and how they tried to get away with it.  Relationships are destroyed.  They suffer–and this makes sense to us.  It’s satisfying because THEY COMMITTED MURDER.

I think Grossman is reflecting back some kind of commentary about the lives of the privileged elite – and yeah, I’m calling him that. If you went to both Harvard AND Yale, and you mention that on your freakishly successful book cover jacket, what else could you be?

So what’s he saying? His characters are living lives of fantastical proportions, but it never seems quite real to them.  They are always waiting for their “real” life to start.  It’s like being in a house where all the doors open onto each other. You keep going through doors, but you only end up going in circles.

Which makes the novel rather nihilistic at its core.  This is the antithesis of what fantasy novels and the fantasy genre are about.  Lev Grossman stabs his own novel in the heart until it’s dead and the reader is appalled.

Unless, of course, the reader doesn’t particularly care for the fantasy genre and is as jaded as Grossman.  Then they might love the book.

Another crime this book commits is that it starts out a leetle derivative, and swiftly towards the last third becomes crazily derivative. The former magic students enter a world called Fillory where we have trees like Tolkien’s Ents, we had Rams like the lion in Narnia, we had bears similar to The Golden Compass. We had a school for magic, like in Harry Potter.  I suspect Grossman intends to be derivative.  The more derivative the book, the more meta comments the characters make.  The meta elements, like the derivative  elements spread through the end of the book like a virus, snuffing out a fantasy reader’s pleasure. In the end, the amoral laxity that Grossman injects into his book kills the flourishing novel he’s created.

It’s like watching someone kill a unicorn. What’s the point?

All of this is done with maximal writing skill. I hate him. AND I envy him his writing chops. They’re making the book into a series–I wonder if they’re going to change it at all to accommodate fantasy TV viewer expectations?

CAVEAT: I know someone who is ready to defend the novel to the death (and does so frequently). She is willing to take on all comers. So she must have cared by the end of the book. Or loved NOT caring.

Follow us at Lady Smut.  We promise never to kill unicorns.

And come back tomorrow, folks–I’m having cover reveal for my fantasy novel WICKED APPRENTICE, including an excerpt and other fun stuff.  You can already pre-order the book on Amazon.

41tek67q8lMadeline Iva writes fantasy and paranormal romance.  Her fantasy romance, WICKED APPRENTICE, featuring a magic geek, is available for pre-order and releases November 1st.

 

 

 

 

Heartless: Soul Sucking Sex Moppets

9 Jun
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Two hot twins trying to solve one four hundred year old curse.

by Madeline Iva

Heartless, a dark Y.A. TV show from the Netherlands & Netflix, makes all my guilty-pleasure bells ring.

It’s got everything you’d want from a twisted dark Y.A.: from a paranormal premise to all the pretty people at a rich, decadent, ancient boarding school. It starts off with two hot orphan twins — a boy and a girl — tormented over the fact that they’re awful and they’re going to get caught and arrested at some point as they crawl about the city, soul sucking energy from the disco populace at large.  The boy, Sebastian, can’t control his impulses and kills people by sucking too much from them their bodies until they ignite and burn.

Do we like shows about black-eyed, soul-sucking succubus twins? -- hell yeah!

Do we like shows about black-eyed, soul-sucking succubus twins? — hell yeah!

So it’s the girl, Sophie, who has to go out and git some for the family.  The actress, Julie Zangenberg, is so good, even though their backstory is never spelled out in detail, her nuanced acting gives you all the feels of the young girl who’s had to go trolling among the creeps.  She’s had to be fondled and felt up until she can get them into her soul sucking grasp.  Survival has taken its toll in this nasty world, and there’s a bit of orphan self-pity and hurt in her gasps and cries as her brother sucks what he needs from her.  (In a way that is so hot and so wrong, btw.  When I said this show is a guilty pleasure I *meant* it.)

They go back to the orphanage they ran away from years ago to find out more about the mother who abandoned them way back.  She herself was a teen, they learn, and they gain some clues about her that lead them to–wait for it–Ottmannsgaard–an elite boarding school specializing in double letters.  (Just kidding.) In fact, the grounds in the woods surrounding Ottmannsgaard are littered with the decaying bodies of other youths just like Sophie and Sebastian on the hunt for the ‘truth’. If only they knew.  Cue the cackling of merciless evil male laughter.

Like a soul-sucker about to expire, I hoovered up the series in a very short time.   The show’s characters are for the most part so hot–even the ones who aren’t supposed to be–like Nadja, that I floated along on the waves of beauty and sin.

It was hard for me to determine which if the twins I liked better.  Sebastian seemed more the type to blend into a rich surroundings.  He had that golden boy thing about him.  It was so captivating to watch him fall in love for the first time and realize he couldn’t even kiss the girl he has feelings for–afraid he’ll kill her when his powers go out of control.

Sebastian, tortured soul in a golden-boy body.

Sebastian, tortured soul in a golden-boy body.

Yet Sophie was a real scrapper.  Getting into it–again in such a hot-yet-wrong way–with the ‘head boy’ evil Ditlev.  (I could make so many jokes about head boys.  I won’t though.) The bad guys in this TV show just go for the Hitler-youth thing in a no-holds-barred way.  And when the sexy Aryan-youth wants his sad moppet succubus girl–just, wow.  (In fact, when one of the bad guys gets it, my friend stopped watching the show–that’s how deep she sank into the show’s glittering perversity.)

Ditlev wants his sad sex moppet succubus.

Ditlev wants his sad sex moppet succubus.

Then there were the headmaster’s daughters — hot and hotter, and witches too, as it turned out.  The older one had an arresting quality, and yeah, looked like she could totally hold her own with whatever witch she might meet down some dark alley, for sure.  The younger one had one of those “I’m here, but I don’t get to say much” kind of roles.  Which didn’t matter.  I mean, she didn’t talk a lot, but she made birds drop dead out of the sky, in this perfect la la la I’m even more powerful than you, and la la la, even hotter than you, but whatever, just hanging out…off-handed way.

Witchy sisters. I liked the younger one, on the right best.

Witchy sisters. I like the younger one on the right best.

The core of the story revolves around a curse–a multi-generational curse at that–which has been working out badly for everyone for hundreds of years. But what I liked best about the show was the development of Nadja’s character.  She’s Sophie’s good-girl-but-dull roommate.  She falls for Sebastian hard, despite/because of Sophie’s warning that he’s heartless when it comes to girls.

That awkward face you make when you had a big orgasm, but like now half your soul has been eaten?

That awkward face you make when you had a big orgasm the first time you had sex, but, like, now half your soul has been eaten?

Nadja isn’t really a nerdy girl – however she’s the closest thing this school of hotness had to offer. She’s helplessly crushing hard on Sebastian, and she wakes up to find she’s love’s bitch.  Then she just owns it. She’s the underdog, the one flying under the radar—I liked her.  Sebastian uses her for some soul-sucking, and hey, she survives it.  She’s stronger than she looks. Moreover, she offers to let him do it to her again, to use her, even knowing he doesn’t like her.  This develops into a very interesting dynamic.  He’s not interested in her–and he doesn’t want to use her either.  He’s trying to redeem himself and he doesn’t want to be ‘that guy’ any longer.  But Sophie needs some of his energy, and with school curfew …he’s in a jam.

Only in Denmark would fencing be the only sport offered at a boarding school. Well, not *real* fencing...

Only in Denmark would fencing be the only sport offered at a boarding school. Well, not *real* fencing…

I just get so caught up in that struggle of what to do when he’s just not that into you but still needs to suck your soul from time to time dynamic.  I mean, if there was a season two for this show — I’d want it to explore this dynamic further.

Did I mention the queer relationships?

Did I mention the queer relationships?

The ultimate appeal for me was that whole ‘this isn’t really high school, but who cares’ genre of decadent rich, meets the cursed witchy, spooky, I-don’t-give-a-f*ck-cool poor, etc.  It just reeks of the most delectable darkness, and I could not get enough.

How about you? Any other dark Y.A. lovers out there? What would you recommend?

And follow us at LadySmut where we love sucking things — T.V. shows about sucking things, that is.

Madeline Ivaimgres writes fantasy, paranormal, and contemporary romance.  Her novella ‘Sexsomnia’ is available in our LadySmut anthology HERE, and her fantasy romance, WICKED APPRENTICE, will be out Fall, 2016.

FREE READ — a peek at Best Friends Never

8 May

Isabelle Drake’s excerpt 

Chapter One: It Doesn’t Matter How You Play the Game, Only Whether You Win or Lose

Blood red.

And death black.

Whoever picked out Cherry Grove High’s school colors was an idiot.

Either that or a serial killer.

bestfriendsnever_800 (1)The hideous color combination blurred across the gym floor, spinning in the cheerleaders’ skirts, bouncing in the pom squad pom-poms and slicing through the air in the quivering band banners. Except for the bizarre Goth meets Glee effect, the scene was flawless. Even the shouts echoing off the walls were just right.

Outside, beyond the gleaming floor-to-ceiling windows and careful flowerbeds, past the student parking lot dotted with Nissans, Volvos and European SUVs, early autumn trees shaded the tidy streets with the first brush of rust, orange and red leaves. It was Cherry Grove after all—anything less than perfection would be inconceivable.

The bleachers were jammed with students, some actually excited about the annual back-to-school pep assembly, the rest just screaming like mad, glad for the chance to be crazy on the first Friday afternoon of the new school year.

From her spot at the boosters table, Lexi Welks could see it all. The teachers huddled in the corner by the wrestling mats drinking Diet Pepsis and eating popcorn, the basketball players lined up under the net, shoving each other, wanting to be the one standing closest to the podium, and the mini-mob of freshmen trying to squeeze themselves into the tiny niche that led to the empty space behind the bleachers. Apart from the chaos stood the football team, arms folded over their Cherry Grove jerseys and looking like they’d rather be anywhere but where they were—right in the center of the attention.

“Here’s your baseball fundraiser auction sign-up sheet.”

Monica Sanders, coming up out of nowhere like a giant weed that not even the deadliest dose of Roundup could get rid of. One of the wicked plants from Little Shop of Horrors.

Only this plant had a nonstop figure wrapped up in a come-screw-me black turtleneck. Half the guys in the school wanted a piece of her. The rest wanted her ACT scores.

Lexi?

Up until a week ago, she and Monica had been friends. And now Lexi was paying the price for what had seemed like fun at the time.

Monica looked over Lexi’s shoulder, waved at basketball center Eric Watson, then came back with a careful smile, showing off her bleached teeth as she slid into an empty chair. “Not that the sign-up is going to do you any good. You know, with next year.”

Lexi took the sheet, dropping it onto the table as though she wasn’t the least bit concerned. Which, of course, was a huge lie. Because getting the right names on that single sheet of paper would change her whole life.

“Can I have your attention? Students?” Dr. Guerra, the superintendent, tapped on the microphone, sending out a series of heart-thumping thuds.

It worked—even the cheerleaders shut up, dropping to the floor to sit cross-legged like a row of overgrown preschoolers. “We need a moment before we get started with the pep assembly. Could everyone please welcome Officer Davenport from the Cherry Grove Police Station?”

“Where else would he be from?” one of the newspaper nerds muttered. “7-Eleven?”

The cop slid behind the mic, adjusting his navy blue uniform tie while he waited for the losers in the back rows to catch on to the idea that he had something other than the D.A.R.E. essay winners to announce. Once the room fell silent, he started talking about Jon Eagle, the kid who’d gone missing a couple of days before. Each word out of his mouth made the knots in Lexi’s stomach pull tighter as images of that night skittered through her mind.

“We’ve been checking leads and retracing Jon’s steps. We’re in constant contact with his family—they’ll be informed as we uncover substantial information.” He flattened his square palm across his jacket lapel, pausing dramatically as he looked out at the faces. “We know how distressing this is for you all, for all of us. For those of you who’d like someone to talk with, your lead counselor, Mrs. Howell, has added appointments before and after school. She’s assured me and all your parents that she’ll do anything she can to help you through this difficult time.”

Monica took out her pretty pink leather-bound planner and wrote down the officer’s name. Then she waited, pen poised, for anything else noteworthy.

“Please keep in mind,” he continued, “that we have no evidence of foul play at this time. There is no reason to believe that anyone else is in danger.” He went on to add that the detective in charge thought that Jon had been in touch with kids who, for some reason, were choosing not to tell anyone. “If that’s the case, we urge you to come forward at this time.” Contact information flashed from the huge ceiling-mounted projector onto the wall behind the podium. Lexi barely held in her roll of nausea as Monica jotted down the counselor hours, the hotline phone number and email address with one hand, all the while texting with her other.

But that was Monica Sanders. Smart. Capable. Efficient. And a real self-serving jerk. Too bad it had taken Lexi three months to figure it out.

“Thank you for your attention.” Dr. Guerra was back at the mic, struggling to say something press and parent friendly. “If we all work together, we might… Maybe we’ll… Jon might…” Thank God she finally gave up, because while two band geeks in the front row were snapping pics, some of the yearbook girls over by the art teacher were starting to cry. A cloud of awkward silence filled the gym, everyone’s face tense. Everyone’s except Monica’s. She was dumping her stuff back into her bag and getting to her feet, all while looking as fresh and fantastic as ever.

“Taylor told me to ask you if you had questions about the sign-up,” she said as she pushed the chair back. This time she wasn’t even bothering to hold on to that flawless, fake smile.

“You mean like why are you even bothering with yours?” Lexi tapped her own sheet with her finger. “Because all the names that matter are going right here.”

Monica practically snorted as she spun on her heels, swinging away without a reply.

Lexi watched the girl’s model-perfect ass until she ducked through the red and black cluster of drumline kids clogging the double doors at the end of the gym.

Once she was sure the girl was gone for good she picked up the sheet, staring at the empty rows and imagining the names she needed scrawled across those blank lines. Planning how she’d get them there. And fighting back the fear of what Monica would do when she did.

Need More?

Get yours from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Google Play, or direct from publisher Finch Books.

Isabelle Drake writes erotica, erotic romance, urban fantasy–and young adult thrillers. Best Friends Never, is available now.

Because you want more Lady Smut, follow us here and on Facebook. We’re here to rock your world in all the ways you like.

Why Do We Love to Read about Secrets?

6 May

YGQRGVJ3MWby G.G. Andrew

Secrets: awkward in real life, but so delicious to read about.

It’s no, um, secret, that characters keeping information from other characters has made all sorts of stories, from primetime Tv to the romances we read, so much juicier. A secret is different than a plot twist–a surprise nobody saw coming, including the main characters and the reader. Secrets in books are often when you as the reader know something, or at least have hints at it, but one of the people in the tale you’re reading doesn’t.

Why is this so satisfying to read, even when it’s a dark secret? Four reasons:

Secrets rock worlds.
If someone keeps a secret from someone else–or the whole world–in the story you’re reading, it’s because that secret has the potential to change lives in dramatic ways, and maybe not for the better: break up relationships, cost people their jobs, shatter their security. Knowing a secret is out there is like watching a volcano that’s about to erupt.

Secrets create dramatic tension.
Watching and waiting for the reveal of a secret it so tantalizing. Even a fantastic plot twist doesn’t have the impact of knowing that secrets will be outed and wondering how characters will react. What happens when a woman is forced to admit to the world she’s in love with her neighbor–even though he’s her student? In a lot of ways, the buildup is often better than the release.

Secrets are about power.
Secrets can create power differentials, and often even upset the usual balance of power. One character who has information others don’t could have power in a sense, since he holds the cards; but if the secret could make him look bad, it’s a point of vulnerability, even if he’s a high-powered CEO who’s moved beyond a troubled past.

Secrets add layers.
Having secrets laying below the surface of a story means that every conversation, every interaction between characters, may be about something else. Maybe a girl is giving her friend a warm hug, but really she’s trying to assuage her guilt that the person who killed her friend’s father is her ex…whom she still has feelings for.

High School Confidential: Click here to score this story of two friends separated by a dark secret.

High School Confidential: Click here to score this story of two friends separated by a dark secret.

 

Do you love reading about secrets? Isabelle Drake’s new YA book, Best Friends Never, is about two friends who are now enemies because of a dark secret. Check it out if you love reading about secrets for these reasons, and more. I know I will be–not only do I love secrets, but complicated female relationships are totally catnip for me!

 

G.G. Andrew writes quirky romantic comedy–stories about people who fall in love with the most unlikely person, and stumble through some awkwardness and ill-advised kisses along the way. Her latest book is GRAFFITI IN LOVE, a romance between an infamous British graffiti artist and the American woman who hates him. There’s a secret or two in it–including the hero’s real name.

I Heart Dark Y.A.

5 May
bestfriendsnever_800 (1)

Life’s complicated when you’re popular, school’s starting, and you’re hiding a murder. Click to buy.

by Madeline Iva

S.A.T. Question:

Dark Y.A. is to the Y.A. SUB-GENRE as

A) Extra cheese is to pizza

B) Brazil is to wax

C) Long Island is to ice tea

D) All of the above

The answer is D — Yes, D.

I’ve talked about my love (addiction) to Dark Y.A. before, yes? From Gossip Girl to other youthful stories of mayhem and bloodshed, Dark Y.A. is the BEST STUFF EVAHHHHHHHH! From Veronica Mars to The Fault In Our Stars–it’s clear that Dark Y.A. is absolutely the best quality of Y.A. out there.

Meanwhile, my friends, here is another excellent Dark Y.A. story for you to savor.  For her new book BEST FRIENDS NEVER, Isabelle Drake wrote down the following themes list:

  • good friends gone bad
  • dark secrets
  • lies among friends
  • mean girls
  • mean pretty girls
  • competition
  • high school stuff

It’s a list only a twisted person with a perverse sense of humor could love–and oh, how I adore it.

Notice how this list captures qualities that we are taught to respect and giggle over: friends, pretty stuff, secrets — and pairs them with the nastier side of teenage, corrupt decadence: competition, mean girls, lies among friends, dark secrets, good friends gone bad.

This is the joy of Dark Y.A.

I adore the distinction Isabelle makes in her list between ‘mean girls‘ and ‘mean pretty girls‘.  Yes! It makes me happy on several levels, along with including the all purpose, uber-generic ‘high school stuff‘. I love it, because if there’s one thing that dark Y.A. is not about, it’s the banal, mind-numbing reality of high school. Yeah, it’s included, but only because, you know, teens mostly go to high school every day.  Other than that, you know, it’s not really important at all…

Another fun aspect of Dark Y.A. is the inevitable moral corruption of youth and not just that, the way youth embraces this corruption with a pragmatic ‘whatever’ attitude. No where else does our society portray a nihilistic ‘f*** it, losers’ attitude than in this nasty little sub-genre.

But I don’t mean to define Dark Y.A. as much as I mean to roll around in it and whinny.

Q: What action is recommended if you discover you’re addicted to Dark YA?

A: Feed the beast

If you’re needing a little Dark Y.A. action this weekend, check over this most excellent B&N list and this larger, more encompassing handy Goodreads list.  Here’s a blurb for another Dark Y.A. gem:

BEST FRIENDS NEVER

Be careful who you keep secrets with, especially in picture-perfect Cherry Grove, a place where average isn’t good enough, and nothing is what it seems.

Lexi Welks wants two things—respect and a college acceptance letter that’ll get her out of too-good-to-be-true Cherry Grove. The problem is that the nasty, life-ruining secret she shares with Monica Sanders is about to go public. If their ugly truth comes out, her plans for college—not happening. And that’s only the beginning of her end.

Monica is the kind of student teachers adore—well-behaved, hard-working and always following the rules. She’s the kind of friend other girls follow—well-dressed, popular and always knowing the right thing to do. If only they knew the truth about her. The truth Lexi found out the hard way, after spending the past summer letting Monica talk her into doing things she knew could come back to ruin her.

Now it’s the first week of school and one of the seniors is missing. Lexi knows a thing or two about the circumstances of his disappearance, but she’s not talking. Neither is Monica. But wicked truths have a way of crawling to the surface and tearing through the most careful plans.

You’re clicking on the cover to check it out, right? Good. Okay, be honest:  do you love Dark Y.A.? What’s your favorite Dark Y.A. book/movie/TV show?  I almost feel like they need a sub-category within the subcategory, because some Dark Y.A. is just about dying or sad topics, while other Y.A. is truly f—ked up–and that’s the kind I prefer.  Which kind do you prefer?

Answer below and follow us at Lady Smut, where we prefer darkness like bats prefer caves.

Madeline Ivaimgres writes fantasy, paranormal, and contemporary romance.  Her novella ‘Sexsomnia’ is available in our LadySmut anthology HERE, and her fantasy romance, WICKED APPRENTICE, will be out Fall, 2016.

Tiger (Beat) by the Tail: Keeping the 80s Hot Today

3 May
High School Confidential: Click here to score this story of two friends separated by a dark secret.

High School Confidential: Click here to score this story of two friends separated by a dark secret.

By Alexa Day

Celebrating Isabelle Drake’s new release, a young adult novel called Best Friends Never, has put me in mind of high school. High school is now in my distant past, and I’m surprised by how little of it I remember. For one thing, I think my mind is trying to protect me from it. High school wasn’t all that gentle with me.

I have only shadowy recollections of prom season, football games, and the inimitable pain-pleasure of wanting the cutest boy in school to talk to me mixed with the horrifying certainty that I would say or do something ridiculous if this encounter actually took place. Good times, good times, right?

But two special friends made high school in the 80s easier to survive. Their names? Tiger Beat and Bop.

Tiger Beat would tell you why Johnny looks so serious here.

Tiger Beat would tell you why Johnny looks so serious here.

Let’s be honest. Tiger Beat and Bop were basically a version of Playboy, marketed toward the teenage girl. Sure, there was some incredibly hard-hitting journalism buried in their interior pages. If you wanted to know how if John Stamos was going to choose his family over you or what really happened with Scott Baio’s breakup or if George Michael was just going to walk away from Wham!, Tiger Beat had you covered.

It was a more innocent time ... for some of us.

It was a more innocent time … for some of us.

I wasn’t reading Tiger Beat and Bop for the interviews. I’m not sure I remember reading it at all. I was more about the pin-ups. Thanks to them, I always had someone super cute waiting in my locker between classes. Today, I’m learning to appreciate staying power at least as much as good looks, and my vacation down Memory Lane into the 1980s showed me that quite a few of my favorite pin-up boys have become fine pin-up men.

Check out these timeless beauties.

Looking like a billion dollars as Tony Stark, RDJ is older, smarter, stronger ... better.

Looking like a billion dollars as Tony Stark, RDJ is older, smarter, stronger … better.

Robert Downey, Jr. See that guy on the cover of Sassy? Hard to imagine that he’d eventually become the mighty RDJ we know and love today. First, of course, we must consider the obvious — he’s aging splendidly. Robert Downey, Jr. Is every lick as hot as he was almost 30 years ago, if not hotter. But what makes the man so very tempting is the knowledge that he has been through Some Shit and emerged a better, wiser, stronger man. That smooth, unlined face is a thing of the past, but in his place, we’ve got someone with perspective, wisdom, and a brilliant sense of humor. And did I mention that he’s still hot? Even hotter than before? I said that, right?

Not to worry. That frown won't leave a wrinkle.

Not to worry. That frown won’t leave a wrinkle.

Johnny Depp. The big difference between RDJ and Johnny Depp? I’m not so sure Johnny is aging. Even as Captain Jack Sparrow, he looks like he’s been around, but he doesn’t really look any older than he did in the 80s. Put that pinup next to something a little more recent, like this shot from Sleepy Hollow. Does it look like time is passing for Johnny at all? The best thing about Johnny is that he’s unpredictable. There’s something weighty and serious behind those dark eyes, and I sometimes wonder if he even knows what he’ll do next. But one thing’s for certain: almost 30 years after 21 Jump Street, he can still put a smile on a teenage girl’s face. (He’ll make a grown woman cry, too, if you’re not careful. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.)

Kiefer Sutherland. I’m going to cheat a little here, since I can’t put my hand on an actual pin up of Kiefer. I know I had one, though. Of all the super cute hotties of high school, he stayed in my locker the

Tiger Beat would tell you what Kiefer is looking at.

Tiger Beat would tell you what Kiefer is looking at.

longest. What can I say? Gentlemen aren’t the only ones who prefer blonds. I supplied a little something from Young Guns, which I’m ashamed to say I have never seen in its entirety. I was more about The Lost Boys, where Kiefer was at his angular, platinum blond best. Hey, if blonds are good, blond bad boys are better. And then, just to hit the hot trifecta, can we talk about that voice? This was a while after the pin-up era, but listening to Kiefer’s super sexy voice giving orders to poor Colin Farrell in Phone Booth — just the thought of that is making me fluttery. Still smoking hot in the present day, Kiefer is right now involved in HeForShe, a gender equality initiative for men and boys standing up for the rights of women and girls. Hot blond bad boy with a sexy voice becomes a hot blond feminist with a sexy voice. I will not be heard to say no to that.

Reunited sure feels good to me! Kiefer and Lou Diamond Phillips look like Young Guns just happened.

Reunited sure feels good to me! Kiefer and Lou Diamond Phillips got back together for ’24.’

So who kept your locker nice and warm back in the day? Rob Lowe? The estimable Marky Mark? Did you get caught up in the Second Coming of the Monkees, like I did? Tell all in the comments.

Be sure to get yourself a copy of Isabelle Drake’s Best Friends Never, for all that delightful teenage drama.

And make sure you’re following Lady Smut.

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